By Greg Anderson, President and CEO, Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum
Wings Over the Rockies is delivering quality programs to growing numbers of visitors and enthusiasts throughout the Denver metro area. Our B-17 weekend in June and Great Paper Airplane Fly-in in May attracted almost 5,000 area residents.
As Colorado’s official air and space museum, however, Wings feels a responsibility to serve all of Colorado. In one of its largest ever undertakings, Wings will embrace that responsibility with the “Spreading Wings” Colorado Barnstorming Tour August 29 through October 6. An Alexander Eaglerock and/or other vintage aircraft will fly with a modern, general aviation aircraft to 16 communities throughout the state. Erik Lindbergh will be honorary chair of the tour. As grandson of the famed Charles Lindbergh and an accomplished aviator, Erik represents the exciting heritage of aviation’s past and present, as well as a new generation taking to the skies in the 21st century.
One goal of the Spreading Wings Barnstorming Tour is to increase public awareness of the importance of aviation and space in Colorado, and in communities throughout the state. Gubernatorial proclamations at each tour stop will recognize Colorado’s heritage of leadership in aerospace and also provide valuable, economic impact of local airports in each community.
Another major goal is to motivate young people to improved achievement in math and science, and to new horizons in all walks of life. Selected classrooms of students at each stop will come to the airport to participate in exciting, hands-on learning activities, as well as bring them in touch with role model aviators to inspire curiosity and goals for learning and life. Aviation planning and flight simulation will engage the students with math and science concepts, and they will also get to sit in cockpits and meet pioneering aviators and student pilots at each airport. Wings staff will also drive a vehicle with computer simulators to each site, in order to train the teachers and set up the logistics for the activities to take place when the aircraft arrive.
The third goal of the Barnstorming Tour is to advance Wings Over the Rockies’ mission through partnership with aviation and education communities. Each stop will identify educators and aviator volunteers who will conduct tour activities. Wings will begin a database with representatives of each community through which to provide tools, training and resources for follow-on educational outreach. In this way, the Spreading Wings Tour truly meets the meaning of its name and also represents the first step in meaningful educational outreach through teachers and volunteers.
Wings Over the Rockies staff and volunteers, including founding board member Carl Williams, have been planning the Spreading Wings Tour since January. Leading the overall effort is Ed Huber, a Centennial-based pilot and former Air Force pilot, with great experience in event planning, coordination and flight logistics.
The Division of Aeronautics is in full partnership with Wings Over the Rockies to promote airports and aerospace education throughout the state. Aviation Education Program Manager Darci Wert has been an invaluable asset.
In addition, the Colorado Pilots Association Board of Directors voted unanimously to fully support the Spreading Wings Tour. Director of Education Torry Krutzke has been the liaison to numerous airports throughout the state.
Other partner organizations include the Colorado Airport Operators Association, AOPA, EAA, NASA and the Colorado Aviation Historical Society. Significantly, financial support has been provided though The Boeing Company and Jeppesen. These firms recognize the importance of aerospace and the long-term investment being made in teacher development and student achievement.
Kickoff at Centennial
The Spreading Wings Tour will launch from Signature Flight Support at Centennial Airport at 9 a.m. on August 29. Erik Lindbergh will join other dignitaries between some of Colorado’s oldest and newest aviation products: the Eaglerock as well as an Adam
A500 and ATG Javelin. Hundreds of students from the American Academy will be on site for a day full of aviation education and inspiration. Beyond planned, hands-on activities, airport businesses will provide tours to students. The tour will head west from Denver through the mountains and then east across the plains, wrapping up back in Denver at Front Range Airport on October 6.
The stops will include Granby, Steamboat Springs, Eagle, Grand Junction, Montrose, Durango, Gunnison, Alamosa, Canon City, Pueblo, Lamar, Colorado Springs, Akron and Greeley.
Community support is vital
Volunteers in each community are planning details of each tour stop around the basic program concept of approximately three hours. Each airport may add activities appropriate to local circumstances, from airport tours to static and flight demonstrations, etc. As circumstances allow, pilots of touring aircraft will also be available to visit schools, service clubs, media outlets, etc. The tour wouldn’t be possible without the commitment and support from these valuable volunteers in each community.
Just like the old days
Old-timers will remember that aviation made itself known through barnstorming tours during the “Golden Age of Aviation” of the 1920s and 1930s. Aside from nationally touring aircraft supported by sponsorships and/or passenger flight revenues, Wings Over the Rockies’ Spreading Wings Barnstorming Tour is unique and unprecedented for today’s era. We thank our partners and sponsors, and we look forward to bringing the heritage and excitement of aviation to communities and young people throughout Colorado.
For more information, call Wings Over the Rockies at 303-360-5360 x 110.